Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hostile Blast from the Past

My ex "friended" me on Facebook last week.  He's the one ex that I have that I don't particularly like.  We parted on disharmonious terms.  I was flummoxed by his friend request.  I sat on it for a few hours and stewed.  Should I say yes, should I say no? I want to be the person who doesn't dwell on bad things, I think it's important to not banish people from your life entirely.  I somehow talked myself into it, and I finally hit "accept" with trepidation.  Then I sent him a message and asked how he was doing and what he'd been up to.  Keep in mind that the last time we talked was 1996.

And then of course I looked at all his pictures because, well, duh.  How has he fared in the past 15 years?  How does one ascertain that?  Looks?  Career? Spouse? Children? Material possessions? General happiness and demeanor in pictures?  Any way you slice it, the last 15 years have not been kind to him.  He's gained a lot of weight.  He looks old and tired. He's no longer a hottie; he reminds me of my uncle who has given up on life.  Based on his work history, he has had a series of jobs that have involved manual labor.  His wife looks old in that way you do when you have a really hard life and chain smoke.  It appears as though they live in a trailer.  He has 4 kids although 2 of them aren't technically his.  His hobby appears to be fixing really old Chevy trucks.  For all intents and purposes, I dodged a major bullet by not getting too serious with him.

It's been 6 days, and he hasn't responded to my message.  So I sit and wonder.  Why "friend" me when you don't want to talk with me?  See, I use Facebook to communicate with people.  I comment on pictures, comment on statuses, am active in the groups I'm in, if I think of someone randomly I'll post on the person's wall, etc.  I need to have better "liking" etiquette, but other than that I am really active and actually DO communicate with most people I'm friends with (except for the few I hide because they go on frequent Republican rants and I don't want to see that stuff). 

He does come up in my newsfeed now, and there's something in me that gets kind of angry when I see his picture.  It's a completely visceral reaction. I can admit when I might have some unresolved feelings from long ago, right?  =)

I'm not even mad at him when it comes down to it.  I'm mad at myself.  I'm mad for making stupid decisions, for staying far too long, for almost compromising myself and my ideals.  He is just the physical representation of my own hostility toward myself and that time. 

To sum up an 8 month relationship, he wanted to be married and have kids because he wanted to be at the center of a family that he was in charge of.  I was 17 years old and had absolutely no interest in getting married and having kids (especially the having kids part).  I was 17!  He had some rather complex issues with control.  He wanted to pick what I would wear, he wanted to say who I could talk to, where I could go.  I was constantly in fear of pissing him off because he would become aggressive to a certain extent. But when I did things just to not piss him off, I would be compromising my own integrity by doing something stupid that he wanted. It was all very strange and reminded me of some bad Lifetime movie. 

All of my friends hated him.  One time I royally pissed him off.  I think it was during one of our "off" times, and he saw me with another guy on campus.  I saw him, he saw me, he gave me The Glare.  I knew I was in trouble. When I got back to the dorm that evening, the word on the floor was that he was looking for me and he was angry.  I had to hide in someone's room while he scoured the dorm looking for me, and then my friends had to cover for me.  When you finding yourself hiding in a closet because he's so angry that you don't know what he'll do when he finds you, that's when you 100% know it's not a relationship that you should be in. It's time to let go.

I could defend him and say that the majority of the time he was fine to deal with - it was just when he was angry or frustrated with me or someone else that his behavior was worrisome.  As time went on, though, his worrisome behavior increased.  I was on edge all the time because I seemed to have an uncanny ability to make him angry (and there may have been a few times that I purposely provoked him).  Sometimes I felt that my mere existence made him angry.  It was bad all around.

We both moved on.  The girl he dated after me was not at all like me.  We were from two completely different worlds.  She had a toddler by one man and was pregnant with another man's child when she met him.  I think she was 20-21 years old at the time, and he was 22-23 years old.  She deferred to him in a way that I never did.  Especially due to her having 2 kids already, she needed him.  I never needed him, and he hated that.  How many years later, and they're married and still together.  In addition to the 2 kids she brought into the relationship, they had 2 more together. It's not surprising that he was contacted by the police for abusing her kids soon after they got together.

I have absolutely no animosity toward her.  I kind of feel sorry for her, but I suppose he is the person she was looking for - someone to tell her what to do, someone who she thought would solve her problems. I don't really have much animosity toward him when you get down to it.  He wanted a girl who adored him and thought he was the best thing since sliced bread.  I wasn't that girl.  I do have animosity toward myself for getting sucked into a trap that I almost didn't get out of.  Live and learn, right?

All this and I really wonder why he won't message me back - even something generic.  Until that happens, I just feel like we're in this awkward state where we don't acknowledge each other's existence.  Do I comment on something he posts to break the ice? Do I hide him? Do I de-friend him?  When it comes down to it, we don't have much of anything in common.  He fixes trucks, camps, and plays Warhammer.  Back then, at least he had his looks.  Now he doesn't even have that, and, well, there's absolutely nothing to even build a friendship upon. 

Yeah, I should have just ignored his request. But I didn't.  So I'm just figuring out where to go from here.

A small part of me is wondering if he's looking at my stuff and thinking, "Whew, I dodged a bullet there."  Yeah, probably.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ethics and Judgment

There's a relatively small amount of people who I hold in high esteem.  When I say "hold in high esteem," I mean those who I defer to.  These are the people who I go to when I struggle with those small or big internal dilemmas that revolve around esoteric concepts such as ethics, morals, justice, fairness, etc.  I have a few such advisors that I toss things around with before I take action on items.  They offer a perspective that I trust and respect. 

And then sometimes one of those advisors does something so completely unethical (in my estimation) that makes me question my judgment in the people I place faith in.  It enormously disappoints me, and then I think if THAT person can do something so questionable, then where is this world headed?

Really disappointing. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Powerful Tactic

This week was challenging.  A lot of things went wrong and I had to fix them, the contractor was on my last nerve, I didn't sleep much at all, and it was far more stressful than normal.  I wasn't at my nicest. 

I like to be nice ordinarily.  You don't piss me off, and I'll be nice(ish).  But when 4 people piss me off in a week and I'm getting very, very little sleep, it's a recipe for me to be not so nice.  And at that point, if you even start to annoy me, I'll make you regret it. 

What turned out to be funny is that although I was completely disagreeable by the end of this week, my disagreeableness actually worked to my advantage.  Yesterday I was pissed at the dentist's office.  They charged me $112 for something that I was told that insurance would cover completely.  I was Ms. McBitchy with them because I had already passed the point of even pretending to be nicey-nice.  I said that if they didn't remove it, I would find another dentist.  (I have absolutely no doctor or dentist loyalty, so this is absolutely true.) I was told the dentist would personally be contacted, and a few hours later, lo and behold, he removed the charges. 

Then of course the contractor pissed me off for the 7th time this week.  I called him and left him a highly irritated, bitchy voicemail on his phone - with the tone that you have reached the last straw, and your ass will be grass.  He called me back within 5 minutes and pleaded for forgiveness and promised on his mother's grave that it would be fixed on Monday.  Of all the times that he's said that he will do something (and doesn't), this is the one time I actually believe that he'll fix it on Monday. 

All because I brought Ms. McBitchy out.  I wonder if I'd get more done if I brought her out more often.  The thing is, I hate being that way.  I actually do want to be nice.  A lot of times nice just doesn't hack it unfortunately.  With men, in particular, I find that if I get in their face a little, most will back down and do whatever you want.  Again, I don't like to do it, but it's one tactic, and it can be used quite effectively. 

I don't think I ever used the tactic on my husband.  He learned quickly what will piss me off (not doing what you say you're going to do, namely), and has largely eluded pissing me off for over a decade.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

First Comment

I've been subscribed to various blogs for quite some time (a year +).  I have never commented on most of them, so I'm just a blog voyeur.  If you want to be a networked blog, as in you want to do this as a job/for profit, you need to build a network.  That can be achieved through commenting on other people's blogs, which apparently means they will then visit yours, you guest post for them, get even more traffic, and so on.  Having never done this with the focus of doing this as a job/for profit-fame-fortune, I don't have those same pressures.  I don't want to purposefully go in that direction, so that mainly means I don't comment on those networked blogs because it will drive traffic here that I don't necessarily want, given that they just want to reciprocate "blog love," not that they necessarily know me. 

All that being said, sometimes people post things that make me go, "Wwwwwhat???"  I so want to say something, but being that I've never commented before, I would think saying something like that as the first comment probably wouldn't be a great first step. 

I do think it though.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I have a little secret

I hoard laundry soap.

Aaaaaah, that felt good to get that off my chest.

It all started 2 months ago.  I heard through a coupon blog that a great sale on laundry detergent was coming up at a local store (Rite Aid).  Combined with coupons, it would be truly awesome.  I was almost out of store bought laundry detergent and was experimenting with making homemade detergent. So what did I do?  I bought a vast supply of coupons for said item off eBay.  Well, I know that's illegal, per se, but the eBay ad said they were only charging for their time to clip the coupons, not the coupons themselves.  So of course that makes it 100% legal and don't report me to the authorities...please.  I'm sure they'd rather bust a meth lab instead of me, the laundry detergent hoarder, anyway.

Back to my hoarding saga.  I got a little bit bid happy on eBay.  I may or may not have ended up with a LOT of coupons for laundry detergent.  And because I had bought the coupon clipping service (not the coupons since that is illegal) and it was already a sunk cost, I felt like the more laundry detergent the merrier since it was so inexpensive with coupons, right?  It's not like it's bread or milk and will expire.  Laundry detergent doesn't expire, to my knowledge.

Right before the bidding escapade, I had experimented making homemade laundry detergent.  A vat of it.  2 gallons or so.  I had a pitiful amount of "real" detergent, my homemade concoction that I wasn't sure how it was going to work, and a ton of laundry detergent coupons.

With the coupons, I bought enough laundry detergent for 1,200 loads of clothes.  We do 5-6 loads per week, so ... that's enough detergent to get me through to the summer of 2015 (approximately) since I don't think it expires.  Am I an official hoarder now?

I swear that's the only thing I hoard around the house right now.

S's parents sent Julia a little birthday gift.  Inside the box there were also about 6-7 tubes of toothpaste.  I was like, "Toothpaste????"

S said one of their neighbors died, and they were cleaning out his house and found about 200 tubes of toothpaste.  Apparently he was an extreme couponer/hoarder.  So they've been giving away the dead guy's toothpaste to everyone.  If I died tomorrow, I wonder if S would be giving away the laundry detergent and exposing my dirty (or clean) little secret to the world at large or if he would just be happy that he didn't have to buy laundry detergent until 2016 (taking into account that if I died there wouldn't be as much laundry so the detergent would last longer...unless he replaces me with some hussy after only a I want to wake him up and yell at him for replacing me with a hussy so soon). 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ms. Crankypants

 Today was miserable.  I was cranky, nothing was going right, the stars were misaligned, I was on edge.  Then I'm physically falling apart.  Last week, I sorely twisted my ankle while running.  This has never, ever happened.  The twisted thing, not the running thing, although let's not get overly ambitious on the amount I've run in my life.  Anyway, I can walk on it, but it's so very tender.  Today I looked at it, and it's noticeably swollen.  Since it's been a week, I probably should get it looked at by a doctor in an ideal world, but 1) I don't have a doctor (oh, shut up), 2) WebMD doesn't say I'm going to die or that I have cancer (which it does for just about every other symptom), and 3) if I did go to a doctor I don't want to get yelled at for waiting a week.  So there.

My next ailment is that I'm coughing up brown stuff.  I'm not looking that up on WebMD because it will say that I'm going to die or have cancer.  I know it's a stupid sinus infection from all of the allergies.  And, again, I don't have a doctor to get antibiotics from, so I'll just suck it up until it goes away.  The doctor I was sorta kinda seeing for life or death matters left the practice.

Then I totally chafed my shoulder - skin gone, and it's oozing. 

To top it all off, I cut myself shaving. 

Whine whine whine, I feel like an 80 year old complaining about all my ailments. 

Not feeling 100%, I had an even cruddier work day than I should have.  It was cruddy in its own right.  I normally do like work. Today was just awful though.  I muttered and swore to myself all day long. 

After a cruddy, icky day, my husband and I spent the evening calculating venting requirements.  Now I love to calculate the area of a circle just like the rest of the world, but I was getting even more irritated about why I was calculating the area of a circle. 

At some point I realized that I should just give up on the day.  That occurred about 3 hours ago, yet I'm still here and still whining and complaining about my horrible day. 

Tomorrow (which will be here in merely one hour) has got to be better than this atrocity of a day. 



I have been unfocused lately, so the thought of a cohesive post on just about anything eludes me.  I did several tasks this weekend, but there are so many more to be done.  I got some rest this weekend, but I need so much more rest.  I feel happy to read everyone's happy thoughts on Father's Day.  I feel sad to read some sad thoughts on Father's Day from those who have lost their fathers or never got what they wanted from their fathers.
I could be in both of the last two camps since I have lost my father and I didn't get much in the way of ... well, anything ... from my father.  I could be jealous of those who had incredible relationships with their fathers and learned tangible things (such as changing a tire, mowing a lawn, fixing a shelf, etc.) or intangible things (how to have discipline, a good work ethic, etc.)  from their fathers.

I choose my feelings and how to react to situations.

I choose to feel fortunate that I knew my dad for many years.  I choose to be happy that he's no longer in pain.  I aspire to have his zest for life and the twinkle in his eye.  I choose to refuse to go down the road of where a low self-esteem takes you.  He taught me that you don't have to be perfect to deserve love. 

What can I say? There were many good qualities about my dad.  There were many not-so-good qualities.  For as weird as the situation was with him, in my dealings with my father I never wished for a different father.  If I think about it for any length of time, my father taught me an intangible lesson of acceptance in the absence of perfection.  It is easy to accept perfection in your eyes.  What is tougher is knowing that you are looking at a battered person and accepting him for who he is and not being disappointed that he's not meeting what your image of perfection is. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Money money money

I haven't done a money post in a long while.  A couple of weeks ago I updated our net worth statement, and I've been stewing on it since then.  Just thinking about it and the direction that makes the most sense (well, UP of course, duh!).

As I think I've said before, our current house (bought in Dec '09) was toward the tippy top of my housing budget comfort level already.  Once we moved in, we realized how much work we'd need to put in.  The most realistic scenario is that we'll have to ultimately put in $100k of work to bring the house to where we want to be.  We had initially thought that we'd need to put in approximately $30k or so with several things being long-term projects.  So essentially the house will be costing us $70k more than we thought.  We mortgaged more than I'd predicted since we held some of the proceeds back from our old house to put toward the remodel. 

For a little over the past year, I've been kind of bitter about it all.  Bitter about feeling pressured to buy this house (I can only blame myself), bitter about being back in debt after being utterly debt free, bitter about the whole frustrating remodeling process, bitter that every time we talked to our parents they asked what we're doing to the house.  For a while there (after last summer), we were done working on the house emotionally, physically, and financially for the time being.  I was tired of having contractors around. We had spent our remodel budget for 2010. I felt like all the work we had done hadn't been acknowledged.  Done done done.

Then the itch started to come back in 2011.  It was precipitated by cost investigation for a new roof.  Then our furnace sorta kinda went out (it's 17 years old).  I did the contractor interview thing for both the roof (3 bids) and the furnace (4 bids).  This week both the new furnace and roof are being installed.  Just as I've felt with last year's remodel and epic painting experience, I love tossing out Hwangified crap and getting new replacements that we picked out.  It's cathartic, and slowly but surely I'm starting to like this house and feeling less bitter toward it and myself.

We have been saving for the new roof/furnace for a year now, and we finally finished saving for them (along with the money we kept from the other house).  So the vast majority of the money for the remodeling we haven't done yet is already in the bank.  That's a breath of fresh air.  Of course, something wacky could always happen.  Crossing our fingers, we shouldn't have to save for any of the big upcoming projects separately. 

Retirement is on track - or as much as it can be (contribute as much as we can and try to pick good investment options, that's about all you can do).

We have a good sum in Julia's 529 plan.  We probably should do more, but I want to hold off to ensure she's college bound, and I'm not quite clear on any possible help with college from my mom and stepdad. 

We have never completed our wills.  If I felt uberconfident in our Julia guardian decisions, I think that would be one thing.  But since I'm not completely confident, I am okay with hemming and hawing.  I shouldn't because if we both die, it could get miserable for Julia.

I do want to consolidate all of our insurance at USAA and get umbrella coverage.  For some strange reason, home insurance through USAA is more expensive than we currently pay, and car insurance is really affordable.  So we've been going through another company for home insurance.  I find umbrella insurance very appealing and worthwhile, and you have to have both car and home insurance with the same company to get umbrella coverage.

Budgeting, as far as monthly cash flow, has been okay.  For about a year, we have been saving for the additional house projects.  Now that we're there, our budget will be a tad more flexible.  If we have extra money, I think diverting 1/2 to paying off the house and 1/2 to other savings priorities (taxable investing, vacations, even additional home projects) is appropriate. 

The one caveat is that my husband's job doesn't look that stable in the coming year.  The extra breathing room in our budget may be slashed if he becomes unemployed.  Ah well, we'll worry about it as it gets closer.  Despite feeling that we've bit off more mortgage than I feel comfortable chewing, I can pay the mortgage on my salary and pay our basic expenses (though I'd have to cut back my retirement savings).  We're not in a position that we NEED two incomes, which is nice.  My personal comfort level, though, has been a bit overextended.  My comfort level is about 3x more stringent than a bank's lending comfort level.  If you divide the maximum the bank is willing to loan us by 3, that's how much I feel comfortable with owing.  Any more than that and I get nervous.

Speaking of lending, I did check out that personal loan website where you can lend money to individuals.  After I read a few people looking for money, I realized that I'm extremely critical of other people's borrowing habits, and peer-to-peer lending as a lender would give me even more anxiety than I already have.  I'll take the stock market instead, thank you very much.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Best Man or Bridesmaid

I adore the dear bride who I am going to be a bridesmaid for.  I think she’s smart, a great person, kind, and we are a lot alike in our circumstances (both only children with single mothers) and our personalities (quiet).  We clicked right away when we met on dorm move-in day, and if there’s a girl that I share the most in the way of commonalities, it would be her.  I am excited for her, and I’m glad she’s happy.  Writing this bridesmaid speech is difficult, though, because I’m far closer with the groom.  I know this is a very fine line. 

See, I dated the groom for a year.  We weren’t the best couple.  Actually we were fairly dysfunctional.  We were such great friends for the previous year that we thought we should try to be more.  But once we were more and it didn’t really work so well, it was hard to give that up because how do you successfully do it?  For the most part, when most people break up, there’s a big to-do and then both people never speak again.  I didn’t want to lose him as a friend because I adored him so much, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with him either.  As relationships go, it wasn’t a bad one.  We were reasonably happy, communicated okay, we just weren’t compatible on a long-term basis which made everyday life dysfunctional. 

He’s a really good guy.  He’s not a liar. He’s not a cheater. He’s not a compulsive drinker or gambler, doesn’t smoke. Reasonably attractive. Smart (in a non-stereotypical way). Generous. Kind.  Again, he’s a great guy… just not for me.  I think that was one of the hardest things about dating for me.  On the whole, I have okay taste in men and when a guy meets everything on my checklist and is decent, then I don't know how to say, "You're a great and wonderful guy, but you're not for me."  There's that unexplainable something that's missing, yet I can't quantify it in my mathematical way. I guess it’s like finding a house that meets all your various criteria, but something’s still holding you back from buying it.  It just doesn’t feel right for some reason that you can’t quite determine. Do you buy it anyway and stick to the facts that it meets all your criteria? Do you scrap it and start the househunting expedition again?

I do really think it is one of the hardest things to figure out in relationships.  In some ways, I prefer dating the buttheads of the world (and I only ever dated one true butthead).  At least you know that the person is a complete idiot, and it is really easy to say, "Look, we want different things." Sayonara, dude.  But when it's a really good person with a few quirks here and there, it's tougher to say that perhaps we aren't good together for the long-term.  You like the person, you respect the person, you're just wanting something that the person is missing in a hard to define way.  Or it's something that you think is so minor that you feel unduly picky about, and then you feel frustrated with yourself that you have made unrealistic criteria for this person you haven't yet met.

Let me just say that if ANYthing is holding you back in your relationship, then cut bait.  I know it may seem like a minor thing, and you may tell yourself that this person fits most of your main criteria so suck it up and make it work.  I've been there.  I know that inner dialogue.  However, listen to yourself.  If things aren't just near perfect, then don't settle for a "pretty good." Keep searching for an "excellent."   You owe it to yourself to make the best life possible for yourself. That being said, I do incredibly adore my ex-boyfriend.  It's just that he's not the one for me for the long-term.

As I’m thinking about this speech and trying to draft it in my head, I think about John and our friendship.  Our friendship was so deep.  In many ways, he was my first real lasting friendship.  I had several friends over the years, particularly guys, but they tended to circulate in and out of my life and I don’t keep in contact with any now other than him.  John has always stuck.  Even if we go a year or two without seeing each other (back when he was overseas), we always pick back up where we left off.  Every memory of him that I’ve been thinking of with him is when we were good friends, before we dated.  It’s not that dating ruined things, but it’s more that I was far more frustrated with him when we dated than when we were friends.  When looking back, my memories of dating him are clouded by that frustration that I didn’t have when we were just friends. 

We were really good friends in an indescribable way.  We always understood each other from the first time we met.  He was a tough cookie for others to crack, but he showed me (or maybe I forced him to show me) a soft spot of himself.  We both had a tough year the year we met, and we were there for each other in a way that was non-traditional but yet sentimental.  When either of us had a bad day, the other would pick out just the appropriate music when the other would come over.  We’d talk.  What I loved, loved, loved about John is he always knew how to be with me.  If I was having a problem, I typically ramble or talk about something unrelated to the problem that I’m having.  He’d just follow along, and maybe a few hours later, I’d start talking about the problem and he’d be right there with me.  He operated in a very similar way to me.  He’d do the ramble about something else thing, and eventually he’d mosey to the subject.  But it would take several hours or even days.  We are both private people, but after we are completely comfortable with someone, then we can be incredibly open after having been given some time to get there on our own. 

The summer before we dated was so incredible.  That summer was so nice with my light school load, afternoon naps with John just lying in his room (really, just napping) listening to The Cure, eating dinner together, trekking to town to do errands, and talking most evenings.  We were so incredibly close that summer in ways that can’t be explained.  I did date other guys that summer casually, but it’s those afternoons and evenings hanging out with John that I remember, walking around campus at night, talking about anything and everything, and having the person that most understood me at the time be my pal and ask for nothing in return other than friendship (at least at face value). 

That year of incredible friendship has resulted in deep memories and understanding that will never be swept away.  We both have wicked good memories, and he can remember exact dialogue that occurred in 1996 when we talked about his roommate’s bullet-laden car.  I remember The Cure’s Just Like Heaven playing on his awful tape player with his red light on as we took the 500 question purity test and me asking him what some of the terms on the test were because my bdsm knowledge at the time was nil.  Speaking of tests, I helped him pass the required grammar test for graduation.  Believe me, that was a ton of work to help him with (he was not anywhere close to an English major), and I remember being so proud of him when he finally passed. 

I think my husband understands John’s and my friendship.  I have an awesome friendship with my husband.  But it’s a different friendship than I have with John.  I’m not the best with analogies, but it was kind of like if John was my bunkmate during a war, we shared things in a way that no one else can truly understand, and we will forever have each others' backs. 

Of course, I probably can’t say any of this stuff in my speech.  On the other hand, John would probably be hurt (but not say anything to me) if I didn’t talk about him at all in my speech.  I walk a fine line being the ex-girlfriend, a friend to both of them, and the one who is there in support of the bride in particular.  If I talk about him, I’m afraid it will come across as though I’m talking about our time that we dated, at least to the bride (who fully knows that the two of us dated).  However, anything I would say about him would be from the year we were really close friends, not when we dated.  It’s just a really fine line. In trying to come up with a speech of some sort, I do think of John and how wonderful he is and the great times we had. 

The bride is relatively secure with herself and does understand that John and I are just good friends now.  I think she theoretically understands John and me, but probably not to the extent of my husband.  She and I are a lot alike, yet there are some dramatic differences between us.  John and I have a different dynamic than she and him, which is to be expected.  Because she’s so private, I’m not quite clear on how much she understands vs. how much she’s just pretending to understand for the sake of John and me. 

I get thrown off when she asked me about when I met John’s various family members in these past few weeks. Of course, I met them as his girlfriend at the time, and this was 15 years ago.  But she asks me which of them I met and what I thought of them.   I’m not clear about what angle she’s asking me these things. Is she merely comparing notes? Is she wondering if she got farther into the inner circle than I did? Does she want to talk about it? I just wonder if the questions are coming out of plain curiosity, insecurity, or there’s something going on that I need to gently prod her on.  In that respect, I’m sooooo clueless with her in particular.  With others, I can parse out that stuff.  With her, I’m kind of confused. 

I’ve had great times with her too, don’t get me wrong.  But our friendship hasn’t been anywhere like my friendship with John.  To my credit, I think the bride is more open with me than with anyone other than John.  She’s just a very private person.  For instance, when they broke up in 1996, I first asked her what had happened.  She said she didn’t want to talk about it.  I prod further, and I get a complete roadblock.  I immediately go up to see him, and we talk about it for weeks straight.  It was just a different openness and willingness to be vulnerable between John and me than the bride and me.  With everyone else, both John and I were very closed off.  However, with each other we both were incredibly great friends.  If I found out that John was in the hospital now, I would run immediately to his side.  If the bride was in the hospital, I’d call first and would make sure it would be okay if I dropped by.  I’d probably do that with most friends.  But with John, I intrinsically would know that he would want me there and not even think to ask. 

So I keep thinking about this speech project and really hope that I can write something endearing to honor them both without stepping on toes and overstepping boundaries. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saturday recap

Yesterday was long.  As in achingly long.  It was good, but it was definitely putting me out of my comfort zone in several ways. 

I began the day meeting the bride on our shopping jaunt.  Fashion isn't really my thing, as I've already said.  More than that, and I'll probably go into it more in my next entry, the bride and I have a dynamic that's fairly different than with most people I know.  We're good friends, and I know I'm her best friend aside from her fiance.  But she's not a very open person.  Neither am I in some ways although when I'm comfortable with someone, then I do come out of my shell some.  Based on how the bride is, I do tiptoe around her in a way that I don't want to offend her or risk anything. 

As I told my mom today, it's her wedding. It's her thing.  I get that, and I'm there to do whatever she asks and making sure that she knows I'm willing to help.  She has a vision for this thing that I can't necessarily understand, but, ya know, it's not my thing.  They are planning to elope on a boat and not have any family there.  It's their decision.

Back to yesterday.  The bride and I met at the mall.  She showed me the dress (in person, it's Sounders green) and a locket she wants to wear.  It's a thick gold chain with a big blue locket (darker royal blue).  I asked her what kind of shawl she wanted, and she said pink.  I'm imagining Sounders green, blue, pink and kinda feeling like this would be a color catastrophe.  Then I asked what she was thinking about as far as shoes go.  She was thinking Mary Janes.  Even though I have zero fashion sense, I know that Mary Janes with a halter dress just ain't gonna work. At this point, I was like, "Oh crap, this is going to be a long and frustrating day."

Bless Nordstroms.  Within one hour, ONE HOUR, the Nordstroms salespeople picked out her shoes (beige sandals with a slight heel) and a cream-colored shawl.  She insisted on the shawl, and if she's going to do a shawl, I think it's the best one possible.  I think the shoes are great too.  Plus, it was so freaking efficient. 

After the most efficient shopping trip ever, I suggested she get a makeover at one of the makeup counters to get some makeup ideas for the wedding.  My mascara is from 1998, but the bride doesn't even own mascara.  The makeover took a while.  Then we ate.  We went through a few stores. We talked. Since she has been so not forthcoming via e-mail about the wedding day plans (and you know me - the logistics tyrant), I was quizzing her in person on the wedding day. 

When I got home after that on Saturday, we had scheduled an impromptu visit with S's college friend (his ex-girlfriend's husband) and S's other college friend and her son.  I'm friends with them too, but I entered the scene in 1997/98, and they went back to 1993 in the dorms as freshmen and sophomores.  I wasn't part of the original clique, but I guess I got in with the spouse card after the fact. 

They stayed for about 7 hours.  It was kind of intense.  Sure, I'm used to people spewing to me, but I'm used to having some warm-up time.  The woman, in particular, is extremely open and one of those who doesn't hold back and is so up front that she takes me aback. 

As an example, several years ago, all of the old college friends met up at a restaurant.  We're all waiting our food and making the small talk (or so I thought).  This is when you say where you work, what you do, are you dating anyone, what city you live in and what type of place (apt, house, etc.).  The stuff you'd talk about if you hadn't seen someone in a few years.

So I had asked her, "Are you dating anyone?" 

I am not kidding you when she said almost verbatim, "I was seeing someone recently.  But he really violated my trust.  He said he was wearing a condom while we were having sex and then I found out he wasn't.  So after that, I just realized he wasn't the one for me."

This is when I cough into my water.  Because the answer you would tell people you hadn't seen in 3 years would be, "I'm recently out of a relationship."  Right?  Must we add TMI to that? 

Last night I should have expected TMI going into it.  I mean, I've received it several times from her before.  But no, I'm coughing into my water as she starts TMI'ing it up.  Then she gives a little speech that she hasn't had anyone to talk to since her son was born, and she realizes how much she misses talking with us, and it's been really great to share like that.  She shared.  He shared some.  S and I just listened and didn't really share because honestly I don't have a whole lot to share.  I share through blogging, but it's not a venue that I force people to come to.  And I'm not the type to spew personal fears and difficult stuff when I haven't seen you in YEARS.  Had we some correspondence other than e-mails here and there, I probably could.  But even then, all in all I don't have a lot of crazy stuff in my life.  The craziest is brother-in-law's drama, but last night they never even asked about us to allow us an opportunity to talk about it.  Hey, they thought the evening was cathartic, and they enjoyed the time.  Both S and I were looking at the clock when it became after midnight, thinking that it was time for them to go. 

So in conclusion, it was a good day and lots of catch up on friendships, but kind of exhausting.  And some wedding stuff got checked off the list.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I don't wanna (whine)

Every year the church moms do a retreat in August.  I've never gone.  Ann tried really hard to get me to go 2 years ago.  I have to give her props for that.  Thinking about going on a retreat with 30-40 women literally terrified me.  Shall we go over all the terror?

- Being stuck, yes STUCK, with 30-40 women for 2 whole days. 
- Listening to them yak non-stop for 2 whole days.
- Sharing a room or even a bed
- Sharing a bathroom (yes, I like my own bathroom)
- Carpooling there and back with 2-3 women.  By the time we got there, I'd want to come back home.
- Girl talk. Now I don't know what this would consist of, but honestly I don't want to know. 
- Crying.  I heard everyone cries.  Being around 30-40 women crying ... ugh... no freaking way. 
- Hot tub.  With women.  Hot tubs are for men and women, and even then I just think of all the germs.... 
- Meal planning and preparation.  Supposedly everyone helps with a meal or two.  I don't cook.  The vast majority of them (stay-at-home moms) are really good cooks.  I'm a lazy girl who would subsist on microwave popcorn if left to my own devices.  Hence, I'd have to suck it up and make a fancy dish and take it with me to the retreat.  That would create even more angst because I get self-conscious about my inability to cook.  However, I make some mean cookies.  :)
- I would not sleep at all.  If I am in a room with people I'm not used to (i.e., anyone but my husband), I'm just not going to sleep.
- I don't think rolling my eyes would be allowed.  How could I go 2 days without eye rolling when there's ample eye rolling fodder? 
- I already know I'm weird.  I don't want to feel weirder for being so different from everyone else. 

On the other hand, I know that I "should" go.  I know I need to put myself out there more with women and create lifelong bonds over crying and drinking wine in a hot tub...or something along those lines.  Apparently, as I've been told, drinking wine in the jacuzzi with my husband is NOT on the same level and NOT a proper substitute for a women's retreat.

If Ann can get me 10 Valium to get me through the weekend, I might consider it.  But drugs would have to be involved, and I'd have to be in a room with someone tolerable.   

Friday, June 10, 2011

Let me steal your fashion advice

This weekend I'm going shopping with the bride for accessories for her dress.  For some very, very strange reason, she's looking to me for fashion advice.  I live in jeans and hoodies.  I have only 4 pairs of shoes, which is an insanely low number for a girl.  I don't own a belt.  I own mascara from 1998.

Now, if a bride is asking me for bridal fashion advice, usually I can pull something out of a hat.  I do have an opinion on bridal fashion: classic.  Simple white/ivory dress, pearl necklace, diamond earrings, simple veil. 

This bride isn't going traditional.  It's a short green dress. I'm flummoxed.  She wants a shawl.  I'm in a tailspin over that.  Don't you have to match the color exactly (which will be nearly impossible), or don't you have to go white/cream?  My gut reaction is to nix the shawl.  We're going to be on a boat, and it's going to be windy.  The last thing you want to be doing is messing with a shawl all day while it's billowing.  I suppose you could pin it down somehow, but doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of a flirty short dress?  Shawl ideas, anyone? 

She wants help on other accessories.  Ugh ugh, she's not a pearls or diamond girl.  I have no freaking clue what jewelry one would wear with the dress.  Gold necklace??? She wants shoe help.  At that point, I'm merely suggesting the ones the model is wearing in the picture. 

I have no freaking idea.  This is like if a girl asked me to do her makeup.  In that situation, I could bring out my tube of circa 1998 mascara and hope she runs for the hills.  In this situation, I have to give some sort of cogent advice.  Right?  It's my duty

So I'm coming to my blog readers, who have to have some ideas on this.  Please give me some ideas so that I can plagiarize your opinions in the form of fashion advice to her.  Here is her bridal dress. <-- Clicking on "Dress" should link to the picture.

If you ever need help on your 401(k) investment options, I'll happily repay the favor.  Let's bring back the barter system.

Thank you!!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What not to name a boy

Julia has a new crush.  Daniel's mom decided to stay at home with the kids, so Julia's got her eyes set on a new guy now that Daniel's not around.  Laundry detergent guy. 

Let me be clear, I like unique names for the most part.  Where I get iffy is when I can't decipher the gender from the name.  I know our culture steals the boy names and gives them to the girls, which limits the pool of boy names to about 5.  To my knowledge, the girls haven't stolen Matthew, John, Patrick, Joshua, and Daniel...yet.  I'm sure there are plans to take those over too.

I recognize that having a unique boy name is somewhat difficult.  But really, must you name your boy after laundry detergent?

When I was commenting about Julia's new love, do you know what my husband said?  He said, "Isn't that the name of a porn company too?"

1. OMG - yes, it is a porn company in addition to being the name of a laundry detergent!
2. Wait, how does my husband know the names of the porn companies?
3. Wait, how do I know that it's the name of a porn company?
4. I wouldn't name my child after a porn company. 
5. Dude, I should have figured out the porn company thing before my husband did.  I'm falling down on my job. :)
6. As a public service and to not embarrass your child(ren), make sure the name you want to use isn't the name of a porn company.   Pretty please???  If you must, name your kid after laundry detergent, but draw the line at porn. 
7. Tide is kind of an ethereal name, isn't it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

The one thing I love about having a blog that has no real theme is that I can pick a topic that matches my mood.  If I want to be offbeat and rant a little because I'm feeling feisty, I can.  If I want to be serious and nostalgic, I can. If I want to be all angsty and Dawson's Creek, I can. Today I'm feeling serious and somewhat angsty.

I am feeling unsettled about my blog design.  I haven't yet started tweaking with it, but by the time anyone reads this it may be all different again.  Sorry, I just really hate the pink leaf-like things on the white background.  There's got to be something better that can still be readable.

Lately I've been feeling a bit confused about what people want from me.  Various people are confusing me, excluding my husband because he's fairly reliable.  Poor guy has hit on me about 10x in the past week, and I've been insufferably drugged with Zyrtec and have refused him each time.  I'll make it up to him sometime soon.

Everyone else, though, seriously what the heck do you want me to do or be?  So many people seem to be dangling drama in front of me, and I'm trying to stay strong and not bite.  Do you want me to just listen to your drama?  Do you want advice? Do you want me to help in some way? I'll be whatever you want me to be as long as you just tell me.

My default when I'm overloaded is to withdraw completely.  Not sure that is the best way to proceed however.

Off to mess with the design because it's something tangible that I can do.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Vague Answers

My daughter turned 3 years old today.  I could comment on time - how the first year felt so long while we were wading through it, and then it seemed to zoom by after she turned 1.  I could comment on how far she's come this year in terms of speech, cognitive abilities, and her likes/dislikes.  I could comment on how much she has taught me, how much she has pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I could comment on how I wish I was the type to bemoan, "My baby's getting older! She's no longer a baby anymore." I don't want her to be back to the way she was 3 years ago because, frankly, I didn't care for the infant stage.

3 years ago

Probably one of my most unanswered questions of the world is why people have kids.  Here are the basic answers I have heard.

"I want a child."
"My family isn't complete yet."
"I want to help mold the next generation." 
"I want a little boy/girl." 
"It's what people do." 

They aren't the best answers in the world.  I mean, as logic goes, those answers suck.  We can debate those for hours, and I can supply vast amounts of logical evidence to counter any vague, idealistic statements you can bring up (how much it costs to raise each child, how the world is overpopulated already, how much time each child sucks up of your life, health care costs, environmental impact of one extra person on this earth, etc.).  But people still have children, and it all comes down to vague, idealistic answers that defy logic...or failed birth control.  And this is coming from someone who has a child.  Wooohooo, logic evader right here! 

My awfully vague answers for having a child were something like:

1 - My husband will make a great father. 
2 - I want a little girl (which makes no freaking sense because I never got along with girls and tend to have much better relations with boys, but oh well...I guess I thought I could have a little girl who would like to do the same things as me). 
3 - There's got to be more to life than going to work, coming home, and reading/watching TV. Right?
4 - It will be kind of cool to watch someone evolve from being completely helpless to a self-sustaining adult (or at least we hope!). 

My answers suck, and I acknowledge they suck.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ending the misery

More has been coming out about my brother-in-law's "emotional affair."  It's more like it's not just an emotional affair.  Really?!  *sarcasm*  Does it surprise me? No, and I wish it did.  Does it disappoint me? Yep.  Do I care? Yes and no. Do I think this was the first affair?  Nope.

First of all, brother-in-law is a complete coward.  Why do guys decide to NOT break up with their current wife/girlfriend before getting another one?  Why must there be a girl in the queue, so to speak, before they just let go of the first one?  I try not to speak in generalities most of the time, but this does seem to be a theme.  I don't exonerate girls of doing the same thing.  If you have a miserable relationship, just end the dang thing!  It's okay to be single.  It's NOT the end of the world to be on your own for a while.  Brother-in-law made his world 100x worse by cheating on her (and her finding out) than it would have been had he just picked up his stuff and said, "I'm outta here" with his head held high.

I get that he was unhappy and miserable in his relationship.  Sister-in-law is one of the very few people in this world that I cannot stand.  She's a whole bundle of personality disorders (hypochondriac, narcissistic, borderline, probably manic depressive, bitter, makes herself out to be a victim all the time).  Living with that has got to suck.  Almost 20 years of that is a prison sentence.  Why he didn't leave after a few years is a mystery to me.  It's not like they had kids right away.  He had plenty of heads up before they had kids to decide to cut bait.  He claims that he tried for almost two decades to make her happy (keep buying better houses, second homes, most of trying to keep her happy involved material possessions), and he finally realized that she was never going to be happy with anything he could give her.  Duh, the rest of us could have told him that 17 years ago.  It's not like she's the type to ever take personal responsibility for things she's even remotely responsible for (like her happiness).  We completely understand his unhappiness in the situation.

Probably this other woman made him feel things he hasn't felt in many, many years.  I get that too.  He probably did have a real emotional connection to this other woman (or women, who knows how many); he realized what his life could be with someone else, someone who values him and respects him.  He probably got so sucked into his miserable relationship with his wife for so many years that he forgot that things like attraction and respect could exist within a relationship. 

What I don't get is why you would risk losing your kids and a significant amount of financial wealth by having a relationship (where you WILL get caught) with the other woman before you end it with your wife. 

Does it really come down to the old saying that men really do think with their, ugh, unmentionable?

I do have to admit that logic was probably not involved in this whole thing.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here or elsewhere, but brother-in-law has been a very weird subject for me.  I do like him as a person, but I've always been extremely cautious around him and have never been alone with him.  It's not that I didn't trust him, per se.  It's more that I knew he would open up to me, and I'd prefer to think of him as an ass than as a person with thoughts and feelings.

What will be interesting is how his parents deal with all of this.  Up until recently (when the extent of the affair was merely labeled as "emotional"), his parents actually seemed okay with it.  They passionately disliked his wife, and if this was the impetus to him getting out of an awful relationship, then so be it.  But now... it's hard to tell.  They are hardcore Catholics.  But they are also hardcore first son supporters.  It will be interesting how they reconcile all of this in their heads.  Will they excuse it?  Will they think their son has sinned?  They have found out, as sister-in-law called his parents on Thursday morning to rat him out.  After the initial "emotional affair" stuff came out, they called us right away.  After this new piece of information, they've quieted. 

May I say how I am glad to NOT have this family drama on my side of the family as I am an only child?  I have limited family drama since I only have 5 living family members (mom, stepdad, aunt, uncle, uncle).  Considering they are all above 60 years old, I hope I don't have to deal with any of them having "emotional" or more illicit affairs.  Husband's family is keeping me too occupied right now.